Daniella’s Top 5 Favorite Destinations

Whenever I talk to people about my travels, I often get asked, “What’s your favorite place?” That’s a difficult question to answer when you’ve been lucky enough to travel as much as I have. There are places I’ll never get tired of visiting, but my absolute favorite place? Um… Can I pick five?

Here they are in no particular order:

1. Bali, Indonesia

BaliPalaceI will never, ever, EVER get tired of Bali. My mom took me there for the first time when I was only two years-old and I’ve been back nearly a dozen times since. I love the island so much, that I wouldn’t be surprised if I was Balinese in a past life.

From the nightly dances at the Royal Palace in Ubud, to the art villages and the beaches, there’s just so much I enjoy doing in Bali. There’s really something for everyone. Recently, we discovered a new area, Munduk, perfect for those who enjoy mountain hikes more than the bustling tourist centers. Rich in coffee and spice plantations, there are also some interesting walking tours that take you to sites of historical importance when Bali was still under Dutch and Japanese rule.

Although Bali has changed so much over the years, I don’t think it’s lost its charm at all. That’s because, no matter how many tourists visit the island, the Balinese people have never let go of their art, their culture, or their innate warmth.

2. Mongolia

It’s a little hard to explain why I liked Mongolia so much. It is an entirely different kind of experience than most destinations. I usually describe it as zen-like.

It’s more of a journey than a vacation. You aren’t met by throngs of tourists everywhere you go. You are always welcome in a nomad’s tent, called a ger, and you will be treated to their fermented mare’s milk whether you like it or not. The sights you see will be mostly the vast, sweeping, water-colored landscapes that surround you. You will ride horses through untouched hills, rough it a little, and get used to a more basic kind of life. And it’s because of all this that it felt like we were exploring Mongolia instead of being just tourists.

I would go back in a heartbeat.

 

3. Tanzania

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If there is one trip that I think everyone should go on, it’s an African safari. There are few trips out there that have the ability to blow your mind, and your first safari will be one of them because it is so different than any other place you’ve been in the world.

Most of us have never been in nature quite like the way an African safari puts you in nature. Sure, you could go to the zoo and see all the same animals for a fraction of the cost, but nothing will take your breath away like being lucky enough to happen across two lionesses and their cubs as you drive across the Serengeti. You won’t get to see giraffes gracefully ambling ten feet from your jeep in Yellowstone National Park. You won’t see a water buffalo lapping at the water of your hotel’s pool in Hawaii. And you most certainly won’t see scores of animals every time you look out the window. Only in Africa.

Another eye-opening experience was our visit to a family of bushmen. We’d also visited a Masai tribe, but the Masai seem positively modern with their mud brick buildings and colorful beaded jewelry in comparison. The bushmen sleep on animal skins and their only protection against nature are the tangle of thorny branches they build around their sleeping area. Almost everything they need is gotten through hunting or gathering. Some sell crafts to tourists, but the money goes towards things they can’t find in the wilderness like clothes. Tanzania is one of the few places left on earth that you can have all these kinds of experiences. Most of the rest of the world is just too developed to support so many animals or cultures like the bushmen. It’s one of the few places where you can see how much humanity has changed over the centuries with your own eyes.

4. Peru 

Chiclayo-SipanTumbasReales03Machu Picchu is stunning, Cuzco is a great little city full of surprises, and then there’s the full-blown Peruvian gourmet explosion that has captivated the world. (I’ve had some of the best meals of my life in Peru.) But there is so much beyond the Lima-Cuzco-Machu Picchu route. (Which is still an amazing trip, don’t get me wrong!)

Northern Peru, while less developed for tourism, has dozens of fantastic archaeological sites and one of the best archeology museums I’ve ever seen. (The Tombs of the Lords of Sipan Museum in Lambayeque.) Imagine golden and bejeweled objects similar to what was found in King Tut’s tomb, with the witty archeologist vs. grave robber stories to match! It’s the perfect Peru trip for someone who’s already done Machu Picchu. And if you haven’t but you want to explore more of Peru, you can add the Lake Titicaca area to your trip to visit the Uros Islands made out of reeds or take a catamaran across to Bolivia.

Peru is a favorite because I’ve been there three times now and there’s still stuff I want to go back and see. I’m hoping next time I can visit the famous Nazca lines.

5. The Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Fun story: I went to the Galapagos Islands as a young girl and wrote a school report on it when I returned home. My teacher called my mom in because she thought I was lying about all of the wonderful animals I had seen. While we were there, we swam with seals in the ocean, watched one giving birth and another seal even came close enough to us that it sneezed on me.

But it’s not just about the seals or Darwin’s famous finches that make the trip. The Galapagos has marine iguanas, penguins, the gigantic Galapagos tortoises, and colorful birds like the Blue-footed Booby -which is also the funniest-looking bird on the planet. What’s even more amazing is how close you can get to many of these wild animals -something you can’t do anywhere else in the world- because most of them are not afraid of humans. Even better: the tourism spurs Ecuador to protect the Galapagos Islands and its animals for future generations.

Most people take small cruise ships through the islands, most of which do two land excursions a day with nature guides. You can choose from swimming, snorkeling, hiking or nature walks. Each guide is only allowed to have 16 passengers and each ship can only take 90 passengers, so it really feels like you’re in a small group instead of an overcrowded cruise tour.

All of these destinations are on our website if you would like more information, sample itineraries and prices.

This entry was posted in adventure, adventure trips, africa, asia, Bali, Ecuador, favorite trips, Food, Latin America, Mongolia, Peru, south america, Tanzania, travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Daniella’s Top 5 Favorite Destinations

  1. Hey there! This is kind of off topic but I need some help from an established blog.
    Is it tough to set up your own blog? I’m not very techincal but I can figure things out
    pretty quick. I’m thinking about setting up my own but
    I’m not sure where to start. Do you have any points or suggestions?
    With thanks

    • Garinan says:

      I have been reading your blog for quite some time and like it the way it aderaly is. Yes, I would like if you did more photo features. Also, I would like to know more details of places off-the-trodden path. If its a regular touristy place like Singapore, its not necessary that you add details of where to go and when and stuff like that.. but a link to one good resource that aderaly covers it is just fine. I really liked your posts on Pallava cave hunting / beyond the Halebid temples. This is what makes me keep coming back I guess. More of such interesting and curiosity-kindling posts please!

  2. laura arteaga says:

    I have travelled extensively. 95 countries and the 7 continents but I have yet to visit two of your favorite destinations, Mongolia and Cartagena. They are both on my top list, for the very near future. I do agree 100% on the other three destinations, Bali, Tanzania and the Galapagos…also some of my favorite destinations.

    Loved and enjoyed your input! You have definitely, sparked, again, the desire to visit those two special places, Cartagena and Mongolia.

    Thanks so much for sharing !

    Laura

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